New York, May 25, 2010 - The New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) today hosted the Fourth Annual Citywide Procurement Fair, designed to help minority and women-owned companies increase the amount of business they do with the City. The event, which was held at the Bank of New York Mellon, brought approximately 500 certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) firms together to network with purchasers from more than 50 City and State agencies and public authorities, as well as several private-sector companies. Firms also attended workshops on a range of topics, including “I’m Certified, Now What?!” and “Using Social Media to Build Your Brand.”
The City’s M/WBE program was created in December 2005 when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed Local Law 129, which established utilization goals in prime and subcontracts by sectors and by gender/ethnicity categories. The program helps minority and women-owned businesses access government contracting opportunities and also provides capacity-building services. Since the program was implemented in 2006, certified M/WBEs have won more than $1.2 billion in prime and subcontracts with the City of New York. In Fiscal Year 2009, despite a 25 percent decrease in City spending, the overall value of contracts awarded to City-certified M/WBEs increased by four percent.
“Improving access to procurement opportunities is the first step to creating jobs and catalyzing growth for M/WBE businesses,” said Robert C. Lieber, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “By bringing business owners together with the City offices charged with procurement, we are creating new opportunities for partnership in every sector.”
Last year, the City enacted two major policy changes that benefit the M/WBE community. The first was a series of historic project labor agreements (PLAs) that will save the City nearly $300 million. Provisions are included that will allow M/WBE contractors to bring more of their own workforce onto projects covered by the PLAs. The second is a change to the City’s bonding policy for contracts under $5 million. This change creates additional incentives for local agents to use the U.S. Small Business Administration’s bond guarantee on City projects and work with businesses new to the market, opening up nearly $500 million in City construction projects annually.
The opening session of today’s Procurement Fair featured remarks from City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor Lieber and SBS Commissioner Robert W. Walsh. During the session, six awards were presented by Marla Simpson, Director of the Mayor's Office of Contract Services. Three firms received the M/WBE of the Year Award, which honors top performers: Active World Solutions, a custom screen printing company; Sage and Coombe Architects, LLP, an architectural design company; and Faze Electrical Contracting Inc., a full-service electrical contracting company. The Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation received the M/WBE Agency of the Year Award for going above and beyond expectations to create opportunities for M/WBE firms. Finally, Steven Stein Cushman, Chief of the Contracts and Real Estate Division at the Law Department, received the M/WBE Advocate of the Year Award for his work helping institute policy reforms that benefit the City’s M/WBE community.
“It’s truly inspiring to see the M/WBE program kick off another year with its Procurement Fair,” said Speaker Quinn. “This has always been and continues to be a successful event where so many firms are able to network and connect with city agencies to help make the M/WBE program more successful. Moving forward, the Council will continue looking at ways to help the program grow and assist small businesses so that – despite the recession – businesses will continue to boom across all five boroughs.”
“Local Law 129 improves City procurement by expanding outreach to companies owned by minorities and women, resulting in a process that is both more competitive and reflective of the City’s diverse population,” said Marla Simpson, Director of the Mayor's Office of Contract Services. “Today's Procurement Fair will provide tools and information to ensure that minority and women business owners better understand City contracting opportunities through face-to-face meetings and workshops with agency purchasing staff.”
This year, in addition to networking and workshops, for the first time M/WBEs had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with financing specialists from NYC Business Solutions Centers to discuss their financing needs, identify an appropriate lender, and begin the loan application process. NYC Business Solutions is a suite of services offered by SBS to help businesses start, operate and expand. These services are offered at no cost and include business courses, legal assistance, accessing financing and incentives, navigating government and recruiting and training employees. Firms also received a demonstration of NYC Business Express (nyc.gov/businessexpress), a website that enables business owners to submit applications online for City licenses, permits and certificates (including the M/WBE certification application), access customized, up-to-date information and step-by-step instructions for meeting government requirements for doing business in New York City, identify incentives programs for which they may be eligible, check the status of applications, including their M/WBE certification, and pay for fines online. The past three procurement fairs have resulted in certified M/WBEs being awarded more than 5,000 contracts valued at over $61 million.
“M/WBEs are a critical part of our small business community, and we are proud of the program that we’ve built,” said SBS Commissioner Walsh. “However, we recognize that there is more work to be done. That’s why we’re working hard to connect certified M/WBEs with all of the services available to them to help grow their capacity to compete in the City’s procurement system and in the larger marketplace.”
“The Bloomberg Administration has continued to develop innovative programs to provide minority and women-owned businesses with greater opportunities for success in doing business with the City of New York. SBS has enhanced its support for M/WBEs to expand their capacity for growth,” said Heyward Davenport, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and Chairman of the City’s M/WBE Advisory Board. “As a result, M/WBEs have stronger capabilities to perform on larger contracts. This partnership will continue to yield positive results.”
To certify as an M/WBE, businesses must be in operation for at least one year; be at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or a member of a recognized minority group; and show a significant tie to the City's business community. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/getcertified.
About the Department of Small Business Services
The Department of Small Business Services (SBS) makes it easier for businesses in New York City to start, operate and expand by providing direct assistance to business owners, fostering neighborhood development in commercial districts, and linking employers to a skilled and qualified workforce. For more information on all of SBS’ services, go to www.nyc.gov/sbs.